Internet Society – Palestine Chapter would like to draw your attention to the ongoing internet shutdown in Gaza, regularly imposed by the Israeli government, and the profound effects it is having on the lives of the people in the region. It is time to highlight what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated in March 2023: that it is essential to reinforce universal access to the internet as a human right, and not just a privilege.
This internet shutdown has serious implications for basic human rights, safety, and the livelihoods of the residents of Gaza. The decision to shut down the internet in Gaza has created a significant disruption in the daily lives of the people living there. The internet is an essential tool for communication, especially in these challenging times, and for accessing vital information. With its sudden absence, many aspects of daily life have been severely impacted during times of conflict:
1. Healthcare: In times of crisis, being online is of paramount importance as it serves as a lifeline connecting individuals to essential services like healthcare and emergency response teams. Access to the internet enables people to quickly reach out to medical professionals for vital health advice, especially when seconds can make a difference in emergencies. Additionally, being online allows individuals to report their location, enabling ambulances and first responders to reach them swiftly, potentially saving lives. In situations where every moment counts, the internet serves as a crucial tool to bridge the gap between those in distress and the assistance they urgently require. The internet shutdown has hindered access to medical advice and healthcare information, potentially putting lives at risk. Dr. Duaa Abu Shakra was a real-life example of such a need when she sent a message from the ruins of her destroyed house for help. This message allowed first responders to reach her and save her life along with her family.
2. Communication: The ability to communicate with loved ones, access critical information, and maintain contact with the outside world is now severely limited. Families are struggling to connect with each other, and many are left in the dark about the safety and well-being of their relatives in other parts of the world.
3. Information Flow: Access to accurate and timely information is crucial, particularly in times of crisis. The internet shutdown limits the ability of the people in Gaza to stay informed about the evolving situation, which can have serious implications for their safety and well-being. This raises concerns about the Israeli government’s willingness to conceal what happened in Gaza without any witnesses.
We call upon the international community to urge the Israeli government to reconsider the internet shutdown in Gaza and to find alternative means to address their concerns while ensuring that the basic human rights and needs of the people in the region are met. It is essential to remember that a thriving and connected community is more likely to contribute to peace and stability in the region.
We urge the international community to closely monitor the situation and work towards a resolution that respects the rights and well-being of all individuals affected by this internet shutdown.